Greetings to you and the rest of the 5th Infantry Association. I know CSM Vic Mercado has passed along much of our final predeployment news, but I thought it appropriate to send a short Commander's update on 1st Battalion's readiness and final deployment activities and a few personal comments on these men-America's most recent Greatest Generation.
Were ready to begin deploying 1-5 IN soldiers to combat for the first time since Vietnam. Our initial flow of advance personnel will depart Fort Lewis within the next several weeks and be joined by the remainder of the Bobcat's in northern Iraq by mid October. Our soldiers are trained and ready-they take pride in the accomplishments of their battalion ancestors from Lundy's Lane, Mexico, the western frontier, to the jungles and hilltops of Vietnam. They watch news of their Second Battalion brothers in Afghanistan fighting on America's initial front on Terrorism and stand ready to take their place as proud veterans as we write the newest chapter of our regiment's combat history in Iraq.
I spend a lot of time watching, training, and talking with these soldiers. As you'd expect, and probably remember from your own service, each has his own views on this war. However, as United State's soldiers throughout our heritage, they follow orders and are prepared to do their duty not because of individual political beliefs but because of a common bond of brother hood and immense pride in this unit, this Army, and this nation. I am deeply humbled to serve and lead them.
Like soldiers from other units, today's Bobcats come from across this nation. Their names and faces would remind our membership of their own service: Rivera from New York, Torres from Puerto Rico, Nelson from Minnesota, Davis from Georgia, Bachl from South Carolina and every other state in between. In this season of political campaigns, these men remind me daily that our service is not to a party or administration; its to a Constitution and a nation. I believe with absolute certainty that the US Army has never put a more trained and ready outfit into harm's way-these men will serve with courage, compassion, intelligence and a knowledge that their sacrifice will help the Iraqi people to a true freedom; and in that effort make us all more secure.
Our equipment (what little we'll take as we're falling-in on another Stryker battalion's vehicles) has already shipped. Our soldier's took advantage of a well deserved leave to visit with family and friends before our Most-Interesting-Year. Just this past week we completed our final block of platoon level collective training and are now focused on final personnel preparations and turning our barracks over to the installation. In sum-all we can do here has been done and we're ready to get going with what lies ahead.
As I said before, we're undoubtedly the best trained Army in our history. With certainty, we'll be the most well connected with family and friends. Troops will have access to e-mail, phones, and a myriad of services to keep them tied into to the goings-on on the homefront. They'll receive mail and packages from loved ones and neighbors. We hope to offer frequent updates to the Association newsletter to keep the membership tied into to today's warriors. The Association has been and continues to be a great friend of this battalion. I thank each member in advance for their thoughts and prayers for today's Bobcats, both those currently in Afghanistan and those of us soon to be in Iraq.
Commanding soldiers is the highest privilege. Commanding Bobcats is both a privilege and an honor. Thanks again for all your support and prayers.
Lieutenant Colonel, Infantry